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Everything Old is New Again

New Canyon Road Hydropower Turbine installation

Asking one simple question can lead, eventually, to big changes. In 2007 Dale Lyons, a Water Resources Coordinator for the City of Santa Fe Water Department, looked at the decommissioned Canyon Road Hydropower Plant and asked if a hydro-power plant was still feasible in Santa Fe. Dale made a few basic calculations that were promising enough to warrant a full engineering study. That study started a process which has culminated in a brand new hydro-power plant inspired by the original power plant in the Santa Fe Canyon Road Hydro Park.

Hatches, Battened

Storm Warning flag

There's nothing like the threat of winter and an onrushing storm to motivate me to finish a slew of projects. Summer seemed to stretch on forever and our fall was mild until recently. But we've woken to a few dustings of snow lately so I overcame my inertia to finish a few more projects. I've replaced and re-weatherstripped the back door and covered a gaping hole in the wall behind a bathroom vanity. Wow, why did those projects take me so long to finish?

Mind the Gap

Window frame with spray foam

I enjoy working on projects around the house. But one DIY project often leads to another. While removing some old paneling this summer I uncovered an ugly secret hiding behind the window trim. I discovered a 1"+ gap between our newer double pane windows and the wall framing. Loosely coiled foam strips were the only insulation in the window to wall air space. It's no wonder the window frames felt so cold last winter!

Putting Water in its Place

Mulched Basin for Rain and Grey Water Drain

Water in the Southwest may be worth more than gold. Even growing the hardiest of native plants requires considering how they will be watered. In our backyard I've used rain barrels for two years to water the vegetable garden. But until now my front yard was dependent on direct rainfall and the garden hose. I've finally added a branched drain system that directs rainfall from the gutters to mulch-filled basins that water our trees and perennials. Hopefully, I can water the front landscape without moving a hose again!

Your Car is making you Fat, Angry and Broke (and what you can do about it)

bike vs car stencil

I've discovered some bad news. Your car is making you fat, angry and broke. But, I've also found out what you can do about it. You may be wondering who I am and what do I have against cars. Believe it or not, I'm a gearhead and I do love cars. As a kid my favorite t-shirt had a silk-screened '57 Chevy. I read car books and magazines from cover to cover. I think cars can be useful, fun, beautiful and exciting. Unfortunately, it turns out that our cars don't love us.

Gleamin' in the Rain

Bruce and his Solar PV panels in the rain

We all know that washing your car seems to bring on the rain. I've found another way to encourage precipitation, tour a Solar Photovoltaic System. After a sun-filled week the skies clouded over and unleashed a downpour about 30 minutes before I visited a friend's solar system. Despite the non-power producing weather, Bruce showed me his PV system and we climbed up on the roof during a lull in the showers. At least the solar panels were nice and clean!

Kill Your (old) Refrigerator

Energy Star Rebate Check

A few weeks ago I wrote about an appliance rebate program in New Mexico. The NM Energy Conservation and Management Division offered $200 rebates for upgrading either a refrigerator, clothes washer or furnace (lots of $ still available for furnace upgrades). Well, we jumped on it and bought a new Energy Star refrigerator and replaced an early '90's vintage fridge. Thanks to my handy-dandy Kill-A-Watt EZ* I discovered how much money we are actually saving with the new fridge.

We're Having a Heat Wave, a Tropical Heat Wave

The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising. So... how do you beat a heat wave?

Stewart Brand's Little Green Book

Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand, editor of The Whole Earth Catalog, author of How Buildings Learn and founder of The Long Now Foundation has written Whole Earth Discipline: An EcoPragmatist Manifesto. I'm generally leery of manifestoes, but given Mr. Brand's resumé I decided to chance reading it. I'm still considering Whole Earth Discipline (and have incurred the wrath of my local library by keeping it overdue). Brand makes three statements in his book - Cities are Green, Genetic Engineering is Green, and Nukes are Green. Is he radical, practical or both?

Moving Images – Part 2 – “The more you drive…”.


Repo Man is a great road movie in the apocalyptic genre that starts in Los Alamos, NM and includes some amazing lines. “The more you drive, the less intelligent you are” has been a constant point of reference for me over the last 6 years while commuting 60 mile each way to my job in Albuquerque. The commitment to a daily fall down La Bajada ( a 2,000 foot drop in elevation South of Santa Fe) was a decision I made weighing commuting times for different urban areas against the quality of life they offered. Compared to many commutes back East, Santa Fe to Albuquerque seemed like a breeze.

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